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Mar 15, 2007

Focus:Environment
Action Request:Think About
Location:South Africa

DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY FOOD MILES YOUR DINNER HAS TRAVELLED?

 

Your pizza delivery time: 15 minutes

Distance travelled: 40000 miles

 

Did you know? Supermarkets have centralised systems, which means a litre of milk can travel 100 miles from a farm to be packaged centrally and then travel 100 miles back again to be sold.

 

The dinner that you eat tonight can contribute to the floods in Asia. How? The answer is “food miles”.

Consumers in Britain and Europe are increasingly aware of how food miles contribute to global climate change.

A food mile is the distance food travels from the farmer who produces it to the consumer who eats it.

It is estimated that the average meal in the US travels over 2000 miles by truck, ship or plane before it reaches the dinner table.

The journey for each of the ingredients in our food has used hundreds, even thousands of litres of fuel.

And every litre of petrol, diesel or aviation fuel that is burned produces carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas scientists blame for global warming.

The Stern Review released in the UK in October 2006 warned that if we don’t take action now to reduce our carbon emissions drastically, it could lead to a recession as damaging as the 1930s Depression.

When we multiply our food miles by all the meals eaten daily by the planet’s six billion people, we realise the enormous amount of greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere every day just by moving food around.

 

Excess food miles are a big, big problem. The over-transportation of food comes from the belief that we should all be able to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, and to hell with seasonality and regionality.

 

Look at how far a pizza and salad meal eaten in Cape Town (South Africa) travels:

Wheat from Argentina – 4000 miles

Tinned tomato from Italy – 4500 miles

Olives from Italy – 4500 miles

Anchovies from Spain – 4500 miles

Pineapple from Durban – 500 miles

Mushrooms from Johannesburg – 350 miles

Mozzarella from Johannesburg – 350 miles

Avo from Spain – 4500 miles

Fresh tomatoes from Israel – 4000 miles

Olive oil from Spain – 4500 miles

Balsamic vinegar from Italy – 4500 miles

That adds up to a scary 31700 miles before you even bought your meal. The 12 mile round trip you made to the pizza shop made up the smallest part of your food’s journey.

AND the distances don’t take into account the miles that trucks and ships travelled to take fertilisers and fuels to farmers, or the distance the mil travelled to the cheese factory, or the miles the fishing ship sailed to catch the anchovies.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

The most obvious thing is to buy as much local food as possible. If you support locally grown food, the local market will grow.

My suggestion is also to grow as much of your own food as possible, depending on where you live. If you can have a vegetable garden in your backyard, grow your own salad ingredients and veggies.

Be as aware as possible where your food has come from and try not to buy imported. Remember, local is best!

 
Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Thursday March 15, 2007, 11:16 am
Tags: food miles [add/edit tags]

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Nicole Bekker
female , married
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
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